It was just in February when Alaska and American Airlines were going to walk out of divorce court. A lot has changed since then. American Airlines decided that being friends with Alaska was actually in their best interest especially to stepped-up competition in Seattle with Delta. It was all set to end – mileage earning, mileage redemptions and all of the other partner benefits.
New Benefits Begin In Spring 2021
Starting this spring, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines will make it a more hassle-free, rewarding experience for elite guests from one airline to travel on the other, with new benefits that will roll out during 2021.
As part of the enhancements, Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K, MVP Gold and MVP Mileage Plan members will be able to access premium seating, and MVP Gold 75Ks will be eligible for upgrades, when they book flights on American’s domestic and international routes. Travelers can take advantage of these benefits on itineraries that are solely on American or when connecting to an American flight.
The New Benefits
In addition to earning and redeeming miles on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite members will receive:
- In the spring, all Alaska elite members will receive complimentary access to preferred seats when traveling on American Airlines, including Main Cabin Extra.
- Alaska MVP Gold 75K members will be eligible to earn global upgrade certificates that can be used to move from the main cabin to Business Class on American. For example, one of those certificates can be redeemed to upgrade from the main cabin to Business Class on American’s new nonstop international service from Seattle to London or Seattle to Shanghai in spring 2021, based on availability.
- Later in 2021, Alaska MVP Gold 75K members will be eligible for unlimited complimentary, space-available upgrades to Business or First Class when traveling on American’s domestic flights.
These benefits will be in addition to the elite perks offered as part of Alaska’s membership in the oneworld global alliance, which takes effect on March 31, 2021. As a oneworld member, Alaska’s elite travelers will be able to take advantage of priority services, international lounge access and baggage benefits.
“Our upcoming membership in oneworld makes these added benefits with American even more rewarding for our guests,” said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “On any American flight, our elites will have access to premium seating or a possible upgrade for a more comfortable journey, in addition to other perks.”
American’s AAdvantage program elite members will receive reciprocal benefits on Alaska.
The expanded relationship between Alaska and American was first announced in February 2020. In fall 2021, American will begin its inaugural service from Seattle to Bangalore, India – connecting two global technology hubs.
“Alaska and American are improving our service on the West Coast so that customers can enjoy their loyalty benefits on either carrier,” said Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer. “Next year will bring significant enhancements that will make the experience more seamless and rewarding for our customers traveling to, through or from the West Coast.”
Alaska Airlines Joins Oneworld on March 31, 2021
Part of the renewed marriage between Alaska and American Airlines is the addition of Alaska to the oneworld alliance. Alaska currently partners with existing oneworld members:
- Cathay Pacific
Delta Air Lines has been increasing its presence at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. American wants to develop Seattle as an international gateway with plans to:
- Increase service to London (LHR),
- Start new service to Shanghai and
- Start new service to Bangalore, India.
Alaska Airlines can assist American by code-sharing these American international flights with passengers from Alaska’s customer base. This is a win-win situation for both airlines. By remaining married to Alaska, American has more strength to compete with Delta Air Lines in the Seattle and San Francisco markets.
The renewing of marriage vows between Alaska And American airlines is good news. Losing American Airlines would have been a major loss for Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members in the Caribbean and South American markets. The ability to earn and redeem miles on American along with the new flight benefits cements the continuing relationship between the two carriers. It also makes sense since both Alaska And American will both be in the oneworld alliance. For American, the relationship adds strength for international development in Seattle and San Francisco.